Did you check out part one first? Read part one of the story
Jenkins sat at the desk in his office. He had his head over the newest protocol of Miss Clarks. It contained the conversation of her and 103. He scratched his head. He began to read the paper again. The report said that the object understood parts of the language the alien used, but that the environment wasn’t right to talk to it.
“The environment.”, talked Jenkins to himself.
He thought about it. But what could he do? It’s not like he could get the alien out and show it around a bit. Afterwards when it’ll understand the human race, 103 could share tea and would translate everything.
Then he became serious again and looked at the paper. There was another fact that troubled him. The shape shifter thought that it had freedom to act on its will and in some way it was right. Never before was an object allowed to do things it wanted to do or suggest something and was heard out. Yet humans never had the chance to meet a creature like object 103 or even be aware of its existence.
“A shape shifter.”, he rubbed his head as if he could think clearer in the end.
He flinched and looked up. Ward was at the door breathing heavily. He grinned all over his face.
“It has gotten better!”, he said while he walked in the room and closed the door behind him.
“It’s the first real change in its behaviour.”
Ward looked around and Jenkins pointed to a chair in the corner. Thankfully he nodded and moved it next to Jenkins desk. While he sat down, Jenkins asked him about the change.
“Well, I know it is nothing big and your work results are much more important”. Ward stopped and looked a bit confused as Jenkins began to smile and stared at the paper before him. But he continued immediately: “Ahem, it looks at us, well at least when we enter the room. After the first months when it arrived it stopped looking at people entering the room. It only showed us that it recognised us, when we got to close to it. Do you understand?”
“So it is more cooperative now?”, Jenkins asked.
Ward sighed. “No. Not really. When it recognizes us it begins to stare right away at the wall again. It is, well.”, he stopped and seemed unsure what he should say next, “I know it sounds silly, but it is like…”
He stopped again and Jenkins got a bit impatient. He knew that Wards was often insecure, especially after the alien became more unwilling to communicate with his team. But lately it got on Jenkins nerves.
“Like what?”, Jenkins tried to help him.
Ward looked down on his hands, before he continued.
“Like it waits for 103.”
Jenkins laughed again. He didn’t laugh, because of Wards imaginative conclusion, but because he had come so close to truth. His look went down to the protocol again and he read the last line out loud:
“Object 27 mentioned something about watching 103.”
The two men remained silent for a while.
“Is this the result? I mean, what did 103 say?”, Ward asked while looking at the paper.
“Yes. Miss Clark finished it yesterday so that I could read it today.”
“What’s in there?”, he curious questioned.
Jenkins leaned back in his chair and scratched his head. Lately he did it a lot.
“To sum it up”, he paused and searched for words, “103 thinks that it understood quite a bit of what the alien said, but it knows that it wasn’t the best time meeting object 27.”
Wards glance wandered from Jenkins to the paper and back to the man.
“Is it possible that 103, ahem well, that it just made up everything?”
Jenkins laughed again and leaned into, “Of course there is. But if it can’t understand I will be damned because I can’t imagine…”
Now Jenkins stopped. He took the protocol and gave it to Ward. When he reached for it, he looked nervous.
“Read it yourself.”
While Ward began reading the paper, Jenkins stood up and went to the small cupboard next to the desk to make himself some coffee. After he pressed the start button he looked at Ward and watched the reactions on Wards face. First he looked surprised, then unbelieving, then again surprised. But he never looked up.
When the coffee was ready Jenkins took his cup and sat down again. He nipped on the hot drink, while he stared at the other man reading the report.
As Ward had finished it, he finally looked up and his lips formed a word, which he didn’t say out loud. ‘Jesus.’
“Do you also want a cup of coffee?”, Jenkins asked grinning.
“There is no way anyone could have known all of this.”, he ignored the question and again his look wandered down to the paper. “Jesus, absolutely no way. It can’t be a lie.”
Once more Jenkins went into the control room of the alien. Again the room was filled with people and a few of them looked up and stared at him shortly before they continued to stare at their terminals again. Just like last time, he leaned back at the wall next to the entrance and waited for the main event.
He looked around and recognised the woman with the red hair who had screamed at him the last time. At the same moment she turned around and saw him. It seemed that she also remembered him. She walked through the room and built herself up in front of him.
“Did you tell your object that it must not go near 27 this time?”, she pointed out. But before Jenkins could answer, she continued.
“And I hope that this time she will be escorted.” She laughed. “Of course she will, ’cause I managed everything.”
Without letting Jenkins answer she turned away and began to advise the technicians.
“I’m really sorry.”
Ward suddenly appeared next to him and pointed at the woman. “She’s a bit nervous.”
“Her name is Zoe Moore. She is my substitute and she manages all the communication with the technicians.”
Jenkins nodded. He could understand her. Everyone in the room seemed to be concentrated so that there wouldn’t be any mistakes such as last time. He sighed, because he somehow knew that there would be breakdowns. But he still couldn’t explain why they happened.
“Really! Normally she is, well, such a nice person. Really kind-hearted.”, Ward said, who seemed to misunderstand him.
“I lost U34.”, a young man shouted suddenly.
A few people stopped talking and Moore ran through the room to him. She shouted at him, while he tried to explain what happened.
Jenkins felt sorry for the technician and turned his head away to ask which room U34 was.
“It is the opposite room of this one.”, Ward answered thoughtful. “We created a connection to the control system, but it seems like we, ahem, lost it.”
Ward looked around, thinking about what he should do. But in the eyes of Jenkins he looked as helpless as a kid, who got lost.
“I will check it myself.”, he finally said and wanted to walk out, but Jenkins stopped him.
“It is no use.”
The two men were staring at each other.
There are no reasons to withhold myself any more, Jenkins thought and sighted.
“’Cause 103 did it.”, he said calm and looked through the big window, “There is no way to get the system back to work unless 103 wants it to work.”
He could see Wards surprised face from the corner of his eye.
“Do you mean…”, he stopped and tried to get Jenkins attention.
The room was suddenly filled with people shouting at one another, so it was difficult to talk normal with someone. Jenkins stared at a monitor which just flickered and didn’t show a normal picture.
When Ward couldn’t get Jenkins looking at him, he just finished his sentence.
“Well, does this mean that 103 also did that last time?”
But before Jenkins could answer, the door to 27s room opened and suddenly everyone in the room stopped his doing.
Everyone froze the moment when they saw the creature. They just stared at it. Nobody looked at the flicking monitors or pay any attention to the control terminals.
Jenkins stopped to breathing. He imagined the event countless of times in his head, trying to expect what could happen. Yet 103 got him. He looked at the grey figure in the door.
Everything happened quickly, but for everyone in the control room it felt like time stopped.
The door opened and a grey tall creature with black eyes and a dark blue suit appeared. In the background a guard laid on the floor. Next to him a few weapons were scattered on the ground. A scientist was standing next to the man on the floor, looking at the creature.
Another grey alien wanted to enter the room, but a standing guard tried to stop it from behind. Yet the creature turned around and pushed him back. Then it closed the door.
Meanwhile object 27 jumped up and ran through the room, reaching out for the new visitor.
Jenkins head went blank. He just watched the scene.
The alien pulled the new creature away from the door, talking to it in a fast and low voice. It looked around, looking lost and finally making another step to the door. Its gesture showed that it believed that the door would open again. It suddenly spoke louder.
Jenkins breathed heavily in. He still leaned against the wall. Why did he never thought of it? He knew that 103 was a shift shaper, but he had never dared to dream about that it could morph into every form it wants.
Next to him, he could hear Ward whispering ‘Jesus’ again. Everyone else in the room remained silent. Suddenly the door next to him opened. A few people winced at the sound of the opening door. Someone even screamed in a high voice.
Jenkins turned his head and looked at Miss Clarks face when she entered. Right behind her was Mr. Allen. They closed the door again.
Most of the people started to live again. A few technicians tried to get the monitors and terminals to work again. In the back a few scientists began to whisper. Someone near the window began to scratch something in a notepad. Yet a few people still stared at the second alien in the room, until someone rose his voice and spoke out the words, everyone thought.
“I though the second one was dead.”
“It is.”, Jenkins voice was loud and clear.
Object 27 still stood in front of the door waiting but constantly talking. Sometimes it nearly screamed. Sometimes it lowered his voice to a whisper.
Many faces in the control room wandered from Jenkins to the alien and back again.
“The second one is object 103. Few of you may know that, that object is a shift shaper.”, he explained.
Jenkins knew that it was forbidden to talk about the results of a project or experiment to other team members of a department. That was the reason why always rumours were sprouted. But what should happen? They all saw it. He just explained it, so that Wards team could continue his work without freaking out.
Jenkins looked at the shift shaper. It looked back and for a short moment he thought that it seemed sorry.
But in the next second everything was different. 103 went a few steps closer to the worried alien and began to speak. It was the same strange language, in the same low voice, but Jenkins thought that it was a bit slower.
“Amiah was right.”, Miss Clark whispered to Allen, but Jenkins didn’t want to know the details. He could imagine that she knew it from the beginning, because 103 told her.
He looked at the two aliens talking to each other. It seemed like 103 tried to explain something.
A few people in the room seemed happy about these results. One of them was Ward. When Jenkins looked at him, he grinned back at him. But this feeling of victory shouldn’t last long.
From one moment to the other 27 screamed and angrily reached for the shift shaper. When 103 didn’t avoid it, Jenkins was kind of shocked. Last time it avoided most of the aliens attacks easily, he thought. Why not this time?
The troubled grey creature freaked out and began to hit the other object hard on the chest and on the arms. But 103 let it happen with itself. All through that, the shift shaper still tried to tell the other creature something. But object 27 wouldn’t listen. Then 103 was thrown to the floor by 27 and it continued to beat the creature on the ground.
“No!”, Miss Clark screamed and ran to the window. Currently it seemed that she was the only one, who could move. Everybody else was overtaken by the things which happened.
As she began to hit against the glass, a few men stood up and pull her away. But meantime object 103 stopped trying to talk.
“Send someone in!”, Moore shouted, while Miss Clark still cried out that someone should help 103. “We must separate them!”
Jenkins had to laugh to himself. If this had happened the last time, he was sure that they had shouted ‘Get her out!’ and not send someone in to solve the fight. Last time 103 had to be rescued, but this time, they won’t risk anything by interfering too much. Appearance could change everything. For most of them the shift shaper was suddenly just another object. Not a human. Nothing more or less than 27.
“Damn it.”, Allen whispered next to him and glared angrily at the scene.
But Jenkins ignored him and watched how the alien began to rip off the suit of 103. There was nothing they could do. He could hear a technician saying that the door was still locked and the system was disturbed by something.
At some point object 27 suddenly stopped and when it stopped, everyone froze again, except of Miss Clark.
“Get off of her!”, she cried out.
“Shh, trust her.”, Allen said to her.
The alien said something and the shift shaper responded. Then 27 began to search for something on the grey skin of 103 until it backed off. They two were talking again and after a while the creature on the floor began to dress itself again as well as it could. Some parts of the suit were destroyed. Then a few minutes later it stood up and they both continued talking. Again some people tried to concentrate on their actual work.
“I wish I could understand what they are talking about.”, said one technician loud enough that everyone could hear him. Two scientists in the back said the same.
Suddenly the shift shaper pointed at the people through the window, while it still looked at the alien.
Of course everyone, including Jenkins, knew that the object actually couldn’t see them, but they felt like they were pointed at.
Object 27 turned through ward the window and searched for something to see. Jenkins followed its black eyes. It was different when its eyes looked at the mirror, then when 103 did. Because every time 103 did it, he always thought the shift shaper could look right through it. Yet the alien just saw itself and looked confused.
They continue talking but this time 27 didn’t stop watching the window, trying to find out what was behind.
“Ahem, what did you tell 103 to talk about?”, Ward asked.
“It should calm the alien and explain the situation.”, Jenkins said and Ward simply nodded.
Then the object searching for the mystery behind the glass shortly turned its head and said something, before it stared again at the window. After that also the shift shaper looked at the glass.
“She persuaded it.”, Miss Clark said excitedly.
“What did you mean?”, Ward asked before Jenkins could ask.
“To talk to us of course.”, she answered as if it was the only possible answer.
Jenkins looked at object 103. Its look wandered to him and it nodded. Then it moved its hand like it wanted to write something in the air.
“She need something to write?”, Miss Clarks guessed.
Again 103 nodded and pointed at her neck.
“Of course!”, Miss Clark explained, “Amiah can’t speak our language in this form.”
Jenkins looked at the shift shaper. It really seemed like it tried to say it, but he thought that it was somewhat strange that Emma Clark could understand it so easily.
“We should give them something to write on.”, Allen suggested.
“No!”, Zoe Moore shouted and turned around to him, “It’s to riskful.”
“But maybe it is our only chance to communicate.”, Ward said lout also.
It was the first time that Jenkins heard his voice this calm and strong.
“We will give them only a few papers and a pencil. Nothing more. Nothing to worry about.”, Ward interrupted her.
Zoe Moore looked surprised and was unsure what she should do. It seemed like the first time she was interrupted by Ward.
“We still can’t open the door.”, remind a technician.
“That could be…”, began Ward.
“Wait!”, told Miss Clark them and pointed at the objects.
Jenkins saw how 103 said something to the alien and both went to the other end of the room. As far away as possible from the door. Shortly afterwards a technician shouted, that the system worked again. Ward looked at Jenkins surprised, yet a bit frightened.
Everything worked smoothly. The cameras captured the pictures of the two grey creatures and the microphones documented every spoken word. Questions after question was spoken over the speakers and the shift shaper translated them to object 27. After they discussed the translation awhile, 103 wrote down an answer in English and would present it to the team in the control room.
Jenkins didn’t move away from the wall. Most of the people around him quickly ran around or were deeply concentrated in their work. But he hadn’t anything to do. Expect as to overview the situation and he didn’t like the result at all.
“It’s too smooth.”, he talked to himself again.
Nobody heard him. Even Miss Clark and Mr. Allen were standing next to the window and proudly discussed with another scientist the new results.
A big monitor on the left wall documented all the questions and answers shortly. It wasn’t easy to ask questions, because the alien didn’t understand all questions or the shift shaper couldn’t translate the answers. Jenkins read them again.
‘How do you feel?’, ‘Sick’
‘Can we make you feel better?’, ‘No’
Jenkins grinned. He was sure it wasn’t the actual answer of 27. 103 changed it to make the team feel better. It was the only question, when 27 seemed to be really upset. Jenkins imagined for a moment that he was in the place of the alien and would have to answer these questions.
After a while he shook his head and continued reading.
‘Do you have a name?’, ‘Unsure about translation: Feth’
‘What are you?’, ‘Question not clear’
‘What is your species named?’, ‘No translation’
‘Are you male or female?’, ‘Male’
‘Where are you from?’, ‘Question not clear’
‘Where is your planet?’, ‘Can’t be translated’
‘How many of your species are you?’, ‘Many’
‘Why were you near earth?’, ‘Exploration trip’
‘What did you search?’, ‘Resources’
‘What happened to the other alien?’
This question was asked only a few minutes ago and was another complicated one. Jenkins remembered how object 27 stared into the window, trying to figure out who was there and asked it this kind of questions. It seemed like it felt uncomfortable with being asked this question. After the other object talked to the alien a bit, the shift shaper wrote its own answer down. ‘Died’
‘Can you tell us something about your culture?’
Jenkins has already reached the bottom of the list and looked at the current question, which the grey figures were talking about for a few minutes. Jenkins looked at 103 and thought that it would be sure nice to understand what the alien would say.
Then 103 began to write something again.
Everything 103 wrote looked like a child had written it and the shift shaper needed a long time for every single character. But this time it looked like that the answer would be longer.
“Isn’t it exciting to communicate with a total other species?”, he heard Miss Clark saying to someone and the other one agreed shortly.
Finally 103 showed what it had written: ‘Not interested. He wants to go home.’
The room was filled with chatter. Ward turned around and looked at Jenkins. They both knew that it was impossible to let the objects go. It wasn’t their decision to imprison them like that, but of the high ups. Moreover they needed them. 27 was the first intelligent creature from outer space and the existence of 103 is still a giant puzzle.
“What should we tell them?”, asked Ward Jenkins and he seemed to be helpless.
“It writes again.”, said a scientist and Wards didn’t wait for the answer and turned around to see what the shift shaper would write.
It was quiet again in the control room. This message took 103 even a longer time than before and it used a second paper to write everything down. Nobody said something until 103 showed its message:
‘It is out of question if you let him go or not.’
And the second paper showed the words: ‘He goes home.’
While showing, object 103 looked madly at Ward. He nervously shot his head around to Jenkins again.
“You said, well, isn’t object 103 on our site?”, his voice broke and he grasped for air, “It, I mean she, was human!”
Jenkins saw into the helpless eyes of Ward and only for a moment his glance went to the shift shaper. It grinned and bent down to write something down again.
“It stopped speaking with 27, so.”, Ward stopped. “It stopped. Translation. So it’s only 103 which, I mean who speaks? I’m right? Or not?”
Jenkins thought about what he should answer. Could 103 think that it had the right to decide such things?
“Amiah just feels sorry for it.”, Miss Clark said suddenly.
“I think it has told her how badly you have dealed with it and now she only wants it to feel better.”
“How naive can you be?”, Zow More barked and it was the first time Jenkins was glad she did say something. This wasn’t normal anymore and he knew it for too long, but denied it. How could Miss Clark be so close to this thing? It isn’t even human. Not human, he thought and the words seemed to burn in his head. What should he do?
Jenkins nearly laughed out loud when the shift shaper held up her last sign.
‘I’m not human right now.’
If it ever was on our side, now it’s not, Jenkins thought and in the next moment the system broke down again. The monitors began to flatter and the terminals couldn’t be used any more.
“Get the security.”, Jenkins said loud and immediately a technician and a scientist ran out of the room and down the corridor. He looked at Wards frightened face and then to 103. It said something in the strange alien language again, but still stared at Jenkins with a smile on its lips.